Nakhiah Goulbourne

Associate Professor


3042 François-Xavier Bagnoud Aerospace Building
1320 Beal Avenue Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2140


Additional Title(s)

  • Director, Soft Materials Research Laboratory

Professor Goulbourne’s research interests are focused on the mechanics of polymers, biological membranes, electro-active polymers, and hybrid composites. The scientific, commercial, and military impact of polymeric materials is evolving from simple passive lightweight structures to functional integration as electromechanical transducers, perm-selective membranes, and ballistic-resistant composites. Understanding the mechanics of polymeric materials and ultimately providing feedback for targeted material synthesis demands not only an interdisciplinary approach but also early integration of science and engineering. Electro-active polymers are a special class of functional polymeric materials that are of particular interest that have applications in biomedical devices and implants, military and aerospace structures, and in biomimetics. She is the director of the Soft Materials Research Laboratory, An Applied Mechanics Group. Her group is engaged in developing models for new materials and experimental mechanics. The long-term research focus of her group is to develop a framework to connect material morphology with macroscopic response and performance.


  • The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
    • PhD ’05
    • MS ’04
  • Middlebury College
    • BA ’00

Research Interests

Mechanics of electroactive polymers, Constitutive behavior of soft materials, Bio-inspired skins and membranes, High strain rate response of polymers and composites.

Research areas:

Professional Service

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Society of Engineering Science
  • International Society for Optics and Photonics


  • NSF CAREER Award, 2008
  • COE Outstanding Assistant Professor Award, 2009, Virginia Tech